The fairies themselves are a contradiction to scale in that their surroundings could in fact be much larger or smaller than the fairies themselves. In a fairy garden the rules can be bent and whether or not you want to bend those rules is entirely up to you, your the designer, your the artist. As a designer I want to help you make that decision as accurately as possible.
There are 5 more popular scales that I am going to discuss below.
I am beginning with this scale because it is the largest of the 5 that I will talk about but honestly I personally rarely ever work in this scale for dollhouse or fairy garden miniatures although I may consider making miniature food in this scale in the future. The 1:6 scale also known as "Playscale" or "Fashion Doll" scale (or more commonly know is the scale for Barbies) means that 1" inch is equal to 6" inches. A better way to put it, for the sake of keeping this as simple as possible, 2" inches in Playscale equals 1' foot in real life.
EXAMPLE: A house in the real world has an average of 10-12 feet per story. So a one story Barbie house would be 20-24 inches tall in the 1:6 scale.
- 10 foot house would be 20 inches tall
- 6 foot bed would be 12 inches long
- 1' by 2' foot picture frame would be 2" by 4" inches
- 6" inch (or 1/2 foot) glass of water would be 1" inch
The 1:6 scale would work great in an outdoor garden without a doubt although I personally have not seen many fairy figurines or accessories in this scale but if you were looking for dollhouse miniatures in this scale I don't think you would have too much difficulty at all.
The 1:12 scale also referred to as the "Dollhouse Scale" or the "1 Inch Scale". The 1:12 scale is not always used for dollhouses but it is the more prominent scale. What this ratio means is that 1' Foot in real life would be scaled down to 1" in the dollhouse world.
EXAMPLE: A house in the real world has an average of 10-12 feet per story. So a one story dollhouse would be 10-12 inches tall in the 1:12 scale.
- 10 foot house would be 10 inches tall
- 6 foot bed would be 6 inches long
- 1' by 2' foot picture frame would be 1" by 2" inches
- 6" inch (or 1/2 foot) glass of water would be 1/2" inch
The 1:12 scale is a good choice for outdoor garden scenes because it is still small enough to create a great fairy garden but not so small that you have to worry too much about your miniatures being blown away or carried of by some critter in the night. For a 1:12 scale potted miniature garden you would need a pot with a 20" diameter or larger to create a fairy landscape if you plan to include a house with plenty of accessories and still allow room for the base of your plants. Just to give a general idea.
The 1:24 scale also referred to as the "G Scale" or the "Half Inch Scale" is common in garden scale railways or model trains, the Playmobil accessories, and some niche markets of dollhouse miniatures. What this ratio means is that 2' Feet (or 24 inches) in real world will be scaled down to 1" inch. The 1:24 scale is precisely half the size 1:12 dollhouse scale, hence the nickname Half Inch Scale. Virtually all of my fairy miniatures at Tinker Treasures are in this scale.
EXAMPLE: To compare we will use the same scenario with the house above. A one story dollhouse would be 10-12 inches tall in the 1:12 scale but in the 1:24 scale that house would be exactly half the size which would be 5-6 inches tall. Each foot in the real world equals 1/2 inch in the miniature world.
- 10 foot house would be 5 inches tall
- 6 foot bed would be 3 inches long
- 1' by 2' foot picture frame would be 1/2" by 1" inch
- 6" inch or 1/2 foot (.5") glass of water would be a mere 1/4" inch (.25")
1:24 scale could work well in a small outdoor flower bed or garden as well although you may want to make sure that your figurines and other accessories have metal picks to secure them in place. For potted miniature gardens I would estimate that the diameter of the container should be around 10-15" in diameter or larger for a complete scene including the house and landscape.
The 1:48 scale also referred to as the "O Scale" or the "Quarter Inch Scale" is also a standard for model trains just a smaller version. This scale is also popular among gamers when creating their figurines and dioramas. What this ratio means is that 4' Feet (or 48 inches) in the real world will be scaled down or represented by 1" in miniature world.
EXAMPLE: (Everything is divided by 4)
- 10 foot house would be 2.5 inches tall
- 6 foot bed would be 1.5 inches long
- 1' by 2' foot picture frame would be 1/4" by 1/2" inch
- 6" inch glass of water would be a mere 1/8" inch
I really don't recommend this scale for outdoor gardens although it might work for a potted plant maybe on a deck or near the house where it would be sheltered from wind and rain. However this scale can work great for larger terrariums and indoor house plants!
The 1:144 scale also referred to as Micro-Miniature is commonly the smallest scale that artists and manufacturers choose to work in. When you see language like "tiny" "micro" "itty bitty" more than likely this is the scale we are looking at. Since I am not a big fan of math I can also admit this is my least favorite scale when determining measurements for items that are typically already very small to begin with. ( I love CREATING micros but math is not my strong point at all) Needless to say I keep a cheat sheet for micro miniatures. In the simplest terms 1:144 or 1' foot = .083" or just short of 1/12th of an inch.
- 10 foot house would be .83 inches tall (Also can be thought of as 13/16 of an inch which is just over 3/4 of an inch)
- 6 foot bed would be 1/2 inch long
- 1' by 2' foot picture frame would be 2/25" by 1/25" inch or .083" by .04" (Essentially were talking millimeters here)
- 6" inch glass of water would be a mere 1/100" inch or .01" (This is an estimate but we are practically building a microorganism here...not really but it kind of feels that way)
To put 1:144 scale into perspective, if your 1:12 scale doll had a dollhouse of her/his own than this would be the scale of your dolls dollhouse.
Micro Miniatures are perfect for small terrariums and air plants. They can also be used in small fairy jar dioramas, snow globes etc.
Determining YOUR scale
Hopefully I have been able to help you understand scale a little better so that you feel prepared to go out there and start building your miniature worlds! It's very difficult sometimes to shop for miniatures online and there is nothing worse (from personal experience) than hand picking your favorite minis in excitement only for you to be disappointed when your items arrive and they were not what you were hoping for!
The best way to determine your scale and avoid my mistake is to plan ahead. The first thing to do is figure out where your miniature garden is going to go. Measure the area or pot that you are going to use. If you already know where you are going to build your garden and you already have a collection of figurines that you are going to use you can use them as a foundation for all the other accessories you will need.
Measure one of your accessories like the figurine or the house and then use the guide above to figure out which scale matches your accessories best. Then as you shop for the rest of the things apply the same scale to those items.
Make a list of the things you want to get and then measure or estimate the size of those items in real life and then convert them to your scale. That way you can't go wrong.
If you want to read a bit more about scale and see some of the other scales that I have not mentioned here I will link an article that goes into a bit more detail HERE